State Passes 'Doomsday' Budget, Massive School Cuts
After General Assembly's failure to vote on key budget measures after a 90-day session, Gov. Martin O'Malley could call a special session to avert deep cuts.
The Maryland General Assembly ended its session Monday at midnight without taking action on proposed revenue measures and passing a budget that will require $512 million in cuts beginning July 1.
The rancorous end to the session left Gov. Martin O'Malley and House Speaker Mike Busch, of Anne Arundel County, fuming with their fellow Democrat, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., who represents parts of Prince George's County.
The Washington Post called the end of the Democratically-controlled General Assembly's 90-day session at midnight on Monday a "stunning collapse."
The Baltimore Sun said the session ended in "disarray."
Maryland Reporter's Len Lazarick wrote about the "doomsday" budget:
"O’Malley and House Speaker Michael Busch both blamed Senate President Mike Miller’s insistence on a gaming measure for Prince George’s County for holding up action. But others, including delegates and senators on the conference committee, said the hard philosophical positions on both sides played a role."
Had the gaming measure passed, it would have asked voters in a referendum in Maryland to consider placing table games in all of the state's slots parlors, including the one in Anne Arundel County.
Many lawmakers said O'Malley would likely call a special session to tackle the tax measures that were mostly not voted on before the $35.6 billion balanced budget was passed as required by law. But as the Maryland Reporter video shows, a visibly angry O'Malley made no such announcement early Tuesday morning.
According to the Washington Post, "Without passing any further instructions on spending or revenue, the state would be required to make more than $512 million in funding reductions to schools and state programs beginning July 1." It would be the "first time in two decades" that the state's lawmakers ended the 90-day session with work remaining on the budget, the paper reported.
In Baltimore County, as Patch's Bryan Sears reported, the abrupt end of the session killed the hopes of many that a partially-elected school board bill was going to receive a vote.
The Washington Post reported that: "Cuts to classrooms, libraries and police in Prince George’s would top $65 million, adding 50 percent to the county’s projected shortfall. Montgomery County would lose over $41 million, exacerbating its budget gap by a similar margin."
The Washington Post reported that the budget passed Monday "would cut 10 percent, or more than $60 million from higher education, likely necessitating higher tuition increases at state universities and local community colleges."
"Funding for grade school students," The Post reported, "would also be reduced by $111 per pupil. And grants to the state’s largest school districts would be cut entirely, accounting for nearly $129 million."
Stay with Patch for more details.